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Building Futures at the EWB-USA National Conference

Milwaukee Art Museum. Image curtesy of

This past week I was joined by two other members of Engineers Without Borders – Kansas City at the EWB-USA National conference in Milwaukee. A definite highlight was the talk given by Mac Prather and Bryan Hunt entitled "All Scales are Beautiful: Building Community Globally, Regionally, and Locally." During this presentation Mac and Bryan provided a very open and personal discussion on instilling leadership at all levels of our work. Probably goes without saying that this presentation was widely positively received.

These EWB conferences, both on the national and regional level allow for our local organization to grow by learning from the experience of others. To date, EWB groups have completed many projects and programs have overcome many issues in the past. So in many cases it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel when it comes to mitigating project issues, whether technical or communications. These conferences allow us to learn from those who have had these experiences.

Prevalent at this conference in particular, is EWB moving towards featuring increased scope from a greater number of disciplines, especially electrical as evidenced by new collaborations with IEEE. Historically EWB-USA has been very much a civil engineering based organization, but that is no longer the case. Additionally, initiatives such as the Engineering Service Corps or Community Service Crops provide opportunities for professional members to get involved in projects outside of the realm of the traditional EWB-USA model.

Towards the goal of the Community Engineering Corps (CEC), three US community leaders representing communities in California, Alabama, and the Four Corners region gave a keynote presentation on major water and sanitation issues their communities been facing. EWB-USA chapters will be the key resource for studying and mitigating these issues.

The Engineering Service Corps (ESC), on the other hand, provides opportunities where EWB-USA has partnered with other organizations such as the UNHCR to provide an engineering resource on projects that don’t fit the typical EWB-USA international project lifecycle. Several initiatives are ongoing and upcoming under ESC to build microgirds in several countries within Sub-Saharan Africa.

All of this is operated under the umbrella of EWB-USA, which is continuing to work towards finding better ways to effectively provide resources to the communities we serve.


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